Admission Tips from a UPenn Freshman: The Essay

October 31, 2013

A lot of people applying to your dream school have strong GPAs, meaningful extracurriculars, and solid recommendations. So much of the college application is based on numbers and achievements and very concrete measurements, and there is nothing wrong with this. Colleges, first and foremost, want an intelligent, motivated, hard-working class. However, they are also looking for individuals who are interesting and unique. So, while it was your job to keep up your grades and be involved In activities for the last four years, now you have a totally different task: channeling your personality through writing.

Ok, I know there are a bunch of different potential essay topics, but there are certain all-encompassing ideas that you should remember no matter what you write about. 

1) Keep it Personal

This might sound simple, but applicants normally have a hard time relating stories and achievements to themselves. Often, you will find that the applicant has written a gorgeous essay detailing a life-changing experience or a project they completed, but it will tell you nothing about the person. You need to make an effort to explain the impact of situations on yourself. For example, clearly explain the lessons you learned, how it has changed you, and how you will use this experience in the future and work off that. Your goal is to clearly illustrate who you are as a person.

2) Don’t Sell Yourself Short

Often, I’d be editing some of my friends’ essays and notice that they do not give themselves nearly enough credit for their spectacular achievements. When I would ask them about this, they would explain that they did not want to come off as arrogant and instead took the humble approach. While humility is an important trait to have, your college essay is not the place for it. On the contrary, you should err on the side of “cockiness”. Remember, you are writing to admissions officers, so you must detail everything. In the next part of this series, I will give interview tips where it is important to not come off as an undesirably arrogant person, but go crazy in your essays!

For a list of some more solid tips, check out this USNews article.

I’ll see you all next week!

And most importantly, good luck in all your applications!

P.S: Use the referral code SEBI when you sign up for AdmitSee.com and get $10 credit!



Browse Successful Application Files

VivienneEve23
UC Berkeley ‘20


Accepted to UC Berkeley, Brown, Claremont (CMC), Columbia, Cornell, Harvard, Northwestern, Pomona, Stanford, San Diego, Vanderbilt, UCSC, UCSB, UCSD, UCLA, Cal Poly, Cal Poly Pomona, Washington

Los Angeles kid attending UC Berkeley, Class of 2020! Planning on studying business or economics. Go Bears!
ltan98
Fordham ‘20


Accepted to American, Fordham, Skidmore, Syracuse, UC Irvine, UCSB

Hi there! I went to an American school in Hong Kong from K-12 and will be starting my freshman year at Fordham University at Lincoln Center in the fall. If you're interested in theater and come from overseas, I would be of particular help to you!
NU2018
Northwestern ‘18


Accepted to Northwestern, Emory, WashU, UMich

Hey everyone, I'm a current Northwestern student (Class of 2018, although I may finish up a little early) and I absolutely love it! Admissions really is a tough time, so try to keep your head up and don't be afraid to take chances.
ArkBuilder
Stanford ‘20


Accepted to Stanford, Wheaton, Pomona

I love languages, exercising, and eating!

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